Cuban dictator Fidel Castro: Newly-released records show that the
Cuban Missile Crisis was only one of two nuclear crises, the other
being between Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Soviets, Castro Turned to Ex-Nazis During Cuban Missile Crisis (Die Welt,
a sharp letter of protest about Moscow’s giving in [to Kennedy]. The Cuban
revolutionary also refused to return his heavy Soviet weapons. ... He blamed Stalin's
envoy for betraying Cuba: 'We took the risk, believing that the socialist camp
would also take the risk for us. We were even prepared for a nuclear war in the
event the Soviet Union was attacked. Now I can see that the Soviet government
was not prepared to do the same for us.'"
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy in Vienna at the beginning of Kennedy's term in 1961: Little did they know that soon, they would face off in one of the most dangerous showdowns in world history, and then, shortly after that, both would be gone from the scene. President Kennedy was assassinated in late 1963, and Khrushchev was ousted in 1964.
The revolutionary leader wanted to keep Soviet tactical nuclear
weapons, and was angry at the Kremlin.
Never was the world as close to a nuclear war as at the end
of October, 1962. The Soviet Union had stationed medium-range missiles in Cuba and
was preparing them to be fired; in Washington, U.S. generals planned air strikes
against these positions and a subsequent invasion of the island. Published
before the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, newly-released
documents show that the situation was far more explosive than previously
assumed, because Fidel Castro was playing his own game. This may well have worsened
already-dangerous tensions between the U.S. and the USSR.
At the height of the crisis, on October 26, 1962, the German
Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND)
in Pullach learned that Castro had recruited former members
of the Waffen-SS.
According to the report, the men were instructed to come to the Caribbean to be
instructors for the Cuban military. Former German paratrooper officers and
technical troops - so-called pioneers - were also welcome. The pay offered was approximately
four times more than the average German income: around 1000 deutsche marks in
Cuban currency a week [about $4000 in 1962 dollars], and the mercenaries were to
receive another 1000 deutsche marks in the Western currency of their choice, payable
to any European bank account. Up to the time of the BND
report, four former SS-men had accepted the offer, although only two can be
shown to have reached Cuba. BodoHechelhammer,
director of historical investigations at the BND, concludes:
"This shows clearly that the Cuban revolutionary army had little fear of recruiting
staff with a Nazi past when it served their own cause."
Apparently, Castro was not only keen on making use of experienced
German World War II soldiers, but he also tried to procure weapons in Europe.
With the help of an arms trafficking network led by two right-wing
extremists, Otto Ernst Remer and Ernst-Wilhelm Springer, the Cuban government
tried to purchase 4,000 Belgian submachine guns - via Western Germany. The BND informed the government about this and reported:
"Since October 25, 1962, actions have been taken resulting in executive access
to this shipment of weapons." The obvious and probable conclusion is that Castro
wanted to free himself of total dependence on Soviet weapons and instructors.
This, however, suggests that he wanted to pursue his own politics.
The documents reveal that the BND
was well informed about the contacts between the Cuban regime and Europe. Thanks
to several viable sources of information in the Caribbean, the BND seems to have had amazingly-accurate information about
Castro's secret rearmament. For quite some time, information about these events
in 1962 have been known to the Federal Archive in Koblenz. Now we have the original
reports. They can be downloaded
from the BND Web site.
In June 1962 at the latest, BND
analysts recognized that Cuba’s ongoing rearmament has changed from being
defensive in character to offensive. For the first time, construction sites
were identified as potential sites for offensive missiles. At the same time, according
to the documents, the CIA assumed that only conventional weapons - not nuclear ones
- were being shipped to Cuba. On September 12, 1962, the BND
informed the Federal Chancellery that since the end of the previous July, about
15 Soviet ships with more than 5,000 troops, mainly technicians and trainers, has
landed in Cuba. Nine days later, they reported: "By the end of November, Cuban
missile launch sites will be operational."
At the time, for technical reasons and because of bad
weather, CIA surveillance flights had been suspended: not a single U-2 flew over
the Caribbean island between the end of August and mid-October. Considering this,
a statement by top Soviet politician Anastas
Mikoyan is gaining credibility, which indicates that the first information
about the stationing of nuclear weapons on Cuba came from the BND.
Information in BND files confirms
much of what we know from other sources, from the discovery of missile installations
in aerial photographs on October 15, the information possessed by President Kennedy
the following morning, as well as the buckling under by Nikita Khrushchev
13 days later. What is remarkable, however, is the detailed
manner in which some sources informed the office of BND
director ReinhardGehlen, the former WWII
Wehrmacht general. For instance, there was a report to
the BND from East Berlin dated October 31, 1962, stated
that Castro had written a sharp letter of protest about Moscow’s giving in [to
Kennedy]. The Cuban revolutionary also refused to return his heavy Soviet
This information is now confirmed by documents from other
sources. It also shows that the Cuba Missile Crisis was by no means over with Khrushchev'sannouncement about the removal of offensive
nuclear missiles on the morning of October 28, 1962. Documents from Mikoyanprivate papers show this. They were recently been published by
the National Security Archive at George
Washington University, an independent research institute in Washington D.C., after
late son bequeathed it the material.
On orders from Khrushchev, Mikoyan traveled to Cuba after
receiving Castro’s fiery letter, remaining there for three
weeks. The documents, completely unknown until now, include several telegrams
and the minutes of a four hour debate among Mikoyan, Castro and "Che" Guevara from November 22, 1962, showing that Castro
was enraged. He blamed his guest for betraying Cuba: "We took the risk,
believing that the socialist camp would also take the risk for us. We were even
prepared for a nuclear war in the event the Soviet Union was attacked. Now I
can see that the Soviet government was not prepared to do the same for us."
Posted by Worldmeets.US
The revolutionary leader blamed the Soviets for discovery of
the missiles by the United States, saying that not enough was done to
camouflage the missiles. He also asserted that U.S. reconnaissance planes
should have been shot down early on. Mikoyan, who tried to calm Castro down, shifted
responsibility onto officers on the scene: In contravention of "Comrade Khrushchev’s
orders," he said work had gone on in daylight.
The Cuban leader also hinted that he had uses not
contemplated by Khrushchev in mind for the missiles. According to Mikoyan, the
Soviet leader wanted to inform the U.S. of the weapons' existence, and that
they posed a deadly threat to nearly all of America. With such a announcement, the
missiles would have become a class means of nuclear deterrence. Castro, on the
other hand, reproached Mikoyan, saying that Cubans could have built permanent
hideouts, for example, mock factories. He claimed that poultry farms would have
been suited to hide the missiles. The revolutionary apparently preferred hiding
the weapons for use in a first strike.
But Castro's key interest was to keep Soviet tactical nukes
on the island. President Kennedy announced the official lifting of the blockade
on November 20, 1962, when he announced that there were no longer nuclear warheads
on Cuba. In fact, however, Soviet General IssaPliyev had control over almost 100 atomic bombs deliverable
by short-range missile, artillery and aircraft. In case of a U.S. invasion, Pliyev was instructed to use these weapons in defense of Soviet
Castro called for these highly hazardous bombs to be handed
over to Cuban personnel, which would have made his regime the first nuclear
power in Latin America. But the Soviets wanted to avoid this at all cost, as
they considered the revolutionary leader to be unpredictable. Mikoyan even invented
a non-existent law, according to which control over Soviet nuclear weapons was
forbidden to other states. Castro finally had to give in so as to preserve Moscow’s
support. So this second Cuban crisis - the “Soviet” Cuban Missile Crisis, ended